I have an interesting sports question to discuss with you guys, but to get there, I have to break one of the most important rules for married sports bloggers, namely, the "don't write about ex-girlfriends" rule. This will make sense. Stay with me.
Several years ago, I dated a girl named Alice (note: her name isn't actually Alice). We had a lot in common -- we both loved the Cleveland Indians, we were members of the same community service group at Ohio State, but one thing where we really didn't see eye to eye was music. I love blues, roots, and soul music (when I was little, I was the only kid in the 740 area code who diligently watched reruns of Soul Train on WGN), and she loved bro-bands and Incubus.
I didn't really have too much of an opinion about Incubus when we were dating. I didn't have any of their songs on my iPod or anything, but if she had Light Grenades playing in the car when we were driving somewhere, I wasn't going to protest. There were just one of the thousands of bands that I felt meh about.
Now though? I cannot stand Incubus. For some reason, listening to Incubus on the radio takes my memory back to a very specific time right after we broke up, when I was living in New Orleans, depressed and alone and probably stuck in traffic somewhere on the Huey .P Long Bridge while Alice was back in Columbus with our mutual friends. I have no bad feelings towards Alice whatsoever, but this particular band, for no real rational reason, is tied to an unpleasant memory, and now I hate them.
People hate sports teams out of similar principles.
There are lots of reasons to hate a sports team. The most common is usually related to on the field events. Lots of Cavs fans hate the Chicago Bulls because Michael Jordan made a habit of absolutely murdering them. Ohio State and Michigan hate each other for lots of reasons, but our rivalry is particularly strong because the matchup has usually had something to do with who wins the Big Ten title, and both sides can point to particularly painful defeats.
Off the field stuff can easily fuel hate too. If you ask baseball fans in the midwest which baseball team they hate the most, an awful lot of them are going to say the Yankees. It's not like the Yankees have specifically beaten their Indians, Royals, or White Sox in especially traumatic ways. The Yankees personify the perception of big market baseball teams buying up all the talent, and turning the AL Central into their own personal farm system. The idea of the Yankees is what pisses people off so much. For basketball, this team is clearly the Heat (and the opposite reason is why so many basketball fans love the Oklahoma City Thunder, even if they couldn't find Oklahoma City on a map 5 years before or maybe even not now). Notre Dame gets a lot of crap for this in college football, which makes sense, since they deserve it.
You can also hate teams for purely emotional reasons. I know multiple Ohio State fans around my age who really hate Michigan State because of their 1998 upset. I don't think you could say that MSU and OSU have a real on the field rivalry right now, and Michigan State hasn't traditionally been a major obstacle to our success (very recent history not withstanding). But that single event, a meh Spartans Squad upsetting the Buckeyes and robbing them of a chance for a title, is forever associated with the Green and White. Back when I was going to American University, I knew a lot of kids who hated a bunch of random schools on the east coast that I had never heard of, just because they didn't get in (I HATE Colgate man! And Bucknell...I HATE Bucknell, or should I say FuckNell lol amirite bros?). I think that's the same principle.
We all have our Michigans, but Incubus isn't a Michigan. I can think of maybe two dozen artists that I dislike more for musical reasons, and it isn't part of my life enough to develop into a true archenemy. If Alice moved into my apartment building, said nasty things to my wife, trolled all my articles, and had her dog crap on my front porch, she might become my archenemy, and then my relationship with Incubus might approach something like an OSU/Michigan relationship. As it stands, Incubus is closer to a Pitt and a Penn State.
When I hear them on the radio, I still think waitasecond, I really hate this band.
What about you guys? Do you have any teams that you hate for emotional or historical reasons, rather than on the field performance? Is this kind of hatred inherently less fulfilling than one with a more on the field rival? I know somebody out there is nursing a grudge against Minnesota or Northwestern something.